CHESTER
BY JACK BULLOCK
One of the things you will notice immediately about Coach Brad Norman is that he is an optimist when it comes to his teams. And he should be.

The Chester Yellow Jackets have been more than competitive in recent seasons and this club has some key players back from a club that dropped a narrow one-point decision to Du Quoin in the regional semifinals at Trico last February.

Gone from the roster via graduation are four starters (Savion Smith, Jake Golding, Demontae Martin, and Jack Weir) from the 20-10 club that finished 7-5 in the league standings a season ago.
However the ones returning has this coach rightfully upbeat about 2017-18.

Coach Norman will have seniors Josh and Jake Haberberger back, both of whom saw a lot of prime time playing time last season.

Josh is a 5-foot-10 senior guard while Jake is a 6-foot-1 guard.

Josh is more of a shooter while Jake will run the show.

Six-foot junior guard Jakob Cushman also is back along with senior guard/forward Nick Heffernan.

Drake Bollman, a 6-foot-2 junior forward, is one of the best defenders on the squad according to Norman.

The Yellow Jackets junior varsity last winter went an outstanding 15-1 on the season and those kids will be significant to the 2017-18 success.

Sophomore Ian Reith is a 6-foot-4 forward and 6-foot junior guard Colin Wingerter are in the conversation for playing minutes in the varsity pool.

Coach Norman also has a transfer; 6-foot-4 junior forward Keith Kiner from Sparta, who he believes will help out.

“I'm excited about this year. I don't know how good we will be, but I know we have good players that love the game. They play really well together and have very little egos. We want to play smart basketball and try to improve each and every game,” said Coach Norman, who sports a 105-70 mark in six seasons at Chester. “I think the changes to our schedule will help us be better prepared for postseason this year. We have three good seniors that are ready to prove their worth in Josh, Jake, and Nick. Our goal is to be the best team we can be by the regional tournament.”

The Yellow Jackets added games against Waterloo and Sparta along with getting a tough draw on the Murphysboro/Trico Invitational Tournament that starts the season.

“I believe we have a lot of questions that need to be answered. Even though our JV was good last year, I'm not certain how we will be. We have some some good team players, but not sure how we will be against the competition,” added Coach Norman.

OUTLOOK - The Yellow Jackets are primed for a big season so don't expect the program to take any steps backwards in 2017-18. He has plenty of players back, which will make depth a non-issue. They have the correct mix of veterans and new comers to tackle a schedule full of challenges. Despite being 2A, the Yellow Jackets won't be a postseason patsy for any potential opponent and they will be a major factor in the Black Diamond Conference West Division.

2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N27-D2 Trico Pioneer Invitational J23 @ Christopher

D6

@ Vienna J26 @ Waterloo Gibault
D8 Sesser-Valier J30 @ Goreville
D12 @ Waterloo F3 Vienna
D15 @ Campbell Hill Trico F6 Christopher
D19 Anna-Jonesboro F10 Campbell Hill Trico
D26-29 Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament F13 Goreville
J2 @ Zeigler-Royalton F16 @ Sesser-Valier
J8-13 Chester Invitational Tournament F17 @ Sparta
J16 Zeigler-Royalton F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD